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Places for people

Christoph Ingenhoven

Places for people
By Christoph Ingenhoven -

Architects are the advocates of the public realm. Theirs is a political role, much more so than for a designer or builder. Being an architect is a political profession. Our responsibility is to make life a little better, more liveable, more peaceful, with fewer conflicts, and last but not least, more beautiful. 

Our most important task is to protect the public realm! We live in an urban age that can expect a population explosion taking the total to more than 9 billion by 2050. The architect’s role is to use his skills to create the most decent places possible.

Public space is as important as buildings, perhaps even more so. Public space is threatened by the massive commercial usage of the public realm. Yet we need informal spaces where we are not obliged to consume, where we can interact with others freely; places we can freely access, where people can discuss as equals. London would be unthinkable without a Hyde Park, New York without a Central Park. These places are the social bond of our cities. That’s why the design of squares, streets and parks is as important as the architecture.

We always do our best to create a benefit for the inhabitants of the cities we build in. Interchange with the surroundings and the character of a neighborhood must always be given thorough consideration. The future lies in cities. Given their complexity, we do a lot of research to design the best. I am deeply convinced that architects have an obligation to house people as sustainably, as beautifully, and as “liveably” as we can.

We think people deserve the best solutions. That’s why we always add something extra when we are asked to make a design. It might be an extra outdoor space in which to take a break, a new refreshing view or lanes within the building allowing chance meetings and communication. We are convinced that places have to be flexible so their occupants can adapt them to their needs. In the city of Stuttgart, for example, we are building an underground railway station that will heal the existing division of the city into two parts and create a large new public space in the very center. With every house or infrastructure we build we create community spaces where people can meet and relax without being obliged to buy.



The most beautiful thing I know is nature! Nature is not only inspiring but also a kind of a role model for bionics. We can learn so much from nature and creatures if we look closely at how they are made and organized, how they adapt in their surroundings, be it desert or ocean, cold or hot climates. Nothing about them is redundant. Every feature has come about out of pure necessity.

We have to make this planet liveable. We also need to protect those places that are still liveable. Every new building has a great impact on nature. The buildings we design are thought through in terms of their life cycle: how much energy is involved in the construction material; how much energy will we use during set up; how will the building be used; how will it age; what parts could be re-used if it were demolished or put to different use, or changed simply because the world has changed. We want to give something back to the people. Because every new building takes something away: space, nature and/or biodiversity.

Green Building Design is one of our core competences. The thread running through all our projects, guiding our success as architects in different continents, different countries and climate zones is our constant striving for the highest environmental standards. As a result, our buildings have been awarded top ratings in their respective countries: Green Star Rating in Australia, British BREEAM standard, Minergie Standard in Switzerland, and the CASBEE system in Japan. We see sustainability as an important, self-evident and highly visible part of corporate identity. But ours is a holistic commitment that reaches far beyond that. We set out to top the minimal standards required. That’s why architecture is essential for human beings. That’s what we call supergreen®.

With our future work we plan to follow the Triple Zero and Green Mass Approach, i.e. give back 125% in terms of biodiversity by creating green buildings where nature and creatures thrive better than they would were the building not there.

We are concerned with the summation of correct building decisions. We have no one style, follow no fashion. We always build individual buildings for our clients, fulfilling the brief and respecting the planning boundaries. During the planning processes of all our projects around the world we have learned that the requirements of each local market are different and that it is important to listen to local knowledge. The decision in favor of a new building is a one-off opportunity to create added value through synergies. The appearance of the building will be the result of that summation of correct decisions. It is this that will determine the way the new structure interfaces with existing buildings and infrastructure, the urban design context, choice of materials, flexibility and efficiency, use of space, best working conditions and energy concept.



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